Another weekend, another adventure! Yesterday I escaped east of La Grande, again to the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. I just love living completely surrounded by National Forest.
This time I went after a geocache at Cougar Rock. I was out alone again, and I tried not to think too hard about why someone gave this pile of rocks that name. I'm all for being cautious and aware of your surroundings, but you can't be paralyzed by fear.
The rocks were very cool. I had a grand time scrambling around and climbing up to the tippity top. Here's the view as I was walking up the hill. Can you see the face?
Hint: She's looking to the left. The Wallowa Mountains' own moai.
The view from the top was amazing. I could see the towns of North Powder, Union, and La Grande, as well as the Blue Mountains from Mt. Emily to the Elkhorn Range.
The trip was well worth the rough road and steep-ish climb at the end. I spent about two hours at Cougar Rock- watching birds and listening to the forest. It was lovely.
Not only was the goal rewarding, the trip getting there and back was beautiful. There's a lot of water coming down the mountains this time of year, and the creeks are running.
The butterflies were out in full force, too; I counted 13 species and I'm sure I missed some. They love the mud puddles beside the road. Ah, tasty, mineral-rich mud!
We're also in the midst of wildflower season, and they are beautiful. I especially liked these Blue Mountain buttercups (Ranunculus populago) that were growing along the course of a seasonal stream. There wasn't one single clearly defined channel, just a torrent of water splashing down the rocky hillside on many paths of least resistance.
My greatest disappointment with the state of the world is being unable to drink directly from streams. They just look so inviting and delicious and cold.
However, I have no desire to experience giardia or something equally nasty, so I (reluctantly) don't partake directly from the stream. I do have a filter that I use when camping and hiking, but it's not the same.
Water is wonderful.